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2019 IRF Junior World Racquetball Championship Blogs

Nov. 07, 2019, 11:52 p.m. (ET)

XXXI IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships
San José, Costa Rica
by Cheryl Kirk

Blog #10
Saturday, November 16, 2019

Arrivals on 11/5-7...practice...opening ceremonies...round robins...main draws...awards and medals received...shirts traded...photos taken...closing party...and in what seemed like a heartbeat, the XXXI IRF World Junior Racquetball Championships is in the history books! Coaches Charlie Pratt and Jen Meyer will be preparing their final summaries of the event in what we'll fondly call Blog #10.5 in a couple of days. In the meantime, here's what took place on Saturday #2:
Saturday's Match Results for Team USA
G10S Blue, Aanshi Thakur def. Costa Rica, 15-8, 15-3
G14S, Heather Mahoney def. Mexico, 15-10, 15-10
B14S, Nikhil Prasad lost to Bolivia, 15-8, 11-15, 4-11
B10S Blue, Ashton Guiraud lost to Bolivia, 5-15, 5-15 
G10S Red, Aarya Shetty def. Alea Guiraud, 15-9, 15-11 
G12S, Sonya Shetty def. Mexico, 15-6, 15-4
G10D, Aanshi Thakur/Elizabeth Denler lost to Bolivia, 12-15, 15-5, 11-3
B16D, Timmy Hansen/Nikhil Prasad lost to Bolivia, 11-15, 10-15

Questions of the Day
What is on your bucket list? 
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Too many things
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Skydiving and bungee jumping. 
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Drive a car at 200 mph
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Become as good of a rock climber as Elyse [Duffié]
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Travel all around the world
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Travel all around the world
                  Note: Yes, Alondra and Heather submitted the same exact words as their responses!
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Trips to Australia and Italy
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Going to a Manchester United game in Manchester
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Going to Vietnam
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Skydiving  
Adriana Perez, 13 -- To eat the world's hottest pepper, go-carting on a straight path so I can go as fast as I can, go to Brazil, earn my black belt or higher in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, make it to the ADCC championships in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- To go to Hawaii, to go to Niagara Falls, learn how to ice skate, learn how to snow ski
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Complete the climb of a 12 at Vertical Endeavors. (at 10 now)
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Canada
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Going scuba diving with dolphins and whales
Ben Baron, 19 -- Visit and watch a game at all 30 baseball stadiums
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Go to the US OPEN
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Travel the world
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Travel Europe
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- To travel the world and meet different people
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I want to get another dog. 
Josh Shea, 15 -- Jump out of a plane
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Go to Oceania
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Go to Costa Rica :)   (Note: pick a new one, Angel!)
Eshan Ali, 12 -- I want to go into space
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Learn to speed-solve a Rubik's cube
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Play Kane
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Have a lot of good friends
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- My mom says she wants to go to Rome.

Guest Responders
Rhonda Kimler (Ava Kaiser's mom) -- Rockies by rail trip, Banff, and a stay at the castle at Lake Louise. Switzerland also makes the list. 
Rick Kaiser (Ava's dad) -- Stay healthy for a long time
Cheryl Kirk (Hayley the dog's mom) -- Set foot on the continent of Africa
Jen Meyer (Coach Extraordinaire) -- Travel and figure out my next bucket list :)
Dave Ellis (of the 209): Work with others to start new junior racquetball programs
Katie Hansen (Timmy's sister) -- Play with lions

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received? 
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Don't worry about what others think
Graci Wargo, 18 -- To not let anyone's opinion affect your decisions and how you feel. 
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Don't compare yourself or your experiences with others because everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and will reach their goals in different ways. 
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- It's always 0-0
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Serve, return, kill (thanks, David Ellis!)
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Enjoy the moment and be kind to others
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- If you want something in life, you have to work hard for it.
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Live in the moment
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Don’t take things for granted because they could go away.
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Don't sweat the small stuff
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Forgiveness is not for the other person, it is for you. 
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- Think before you act
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- We don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents (Bob Ross) 
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Don't hog
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Stay Calm and pet a dog
Micah Farmer, 19 -- It is better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.
Ben Baron, 19 -- Bend your knees
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Believe in yourself
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- You have to be a good loser to be a great winner.
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- If you want something, you have to go after it. 
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- To never give up. To never think about the situation you're in, but to focus on the end goal.
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- Not to look down and always be optimistic.
Josh Shea, 15 -- Work smarter, not harder
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Work smarter, not harder
Eshan Ali, 12 -- Be focused
Advait Kartik, 13 -- "Chill Out"
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Don't hog the ball
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Follow God
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- No sacrifice, no victory

Guest Responders
Rhonda Kimler (Ava Kaiser's mom) -- Enjoy your childhood; adulthood is overrated.
Rick Kaiser (Ava's dad) -- Invest, buy company stock
Cheryl Kirk (David R. Kirk's daughter) -- Keep your promises.
Jen Meyer (Coach Extraordinaire): Slow down, take a deep breath and truly enjoy the moment.
Dave Ellis (Former US Team Head Coach): Don’t be so serious.  Relax, but give it your best effort.

On the medals stand this evening at the Awards Ceremony and Party, the following US Junior Team players claimed their rewards for their results here in San José:
TEAM USA Overall Results -- Individual -- WORLD CUP
G18D, Nikita Chauhan/Erin Slutzky  -- BRONZE
B16S, Timmy Hansen -- BRONZE 
B16D, Timmy Hansen/Nikhil Prasad -- SILVER
G16S, Annie Roberts -- BRONZE
B14S, Nikhil Prasad -- SILVER
G14S, Heather Mahoney -- GOLD
G14S, Ava Kaiser -- BRONZE
G14D, Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser -- BRONZE 
TEAM USA Overall Results -- Individual -- ESPRIT CUP
B12S, Eshan Ali -- BRONZE
B12S, Angel Galvan -- BRONZE
B12S Red, Advait Kartik -- BRONZE
B12S Blue, Joseph Marshall -- BRONZE
B12D, Angel Galvan/Eshan Ali -- BRONZE
G12S, Sonya Shetty -- GOLD
G12D, Sonya Shetty/Ava Naworski -- BRONZE
B10S Blue, Ashton Guiraud -- SILVER 
G10S, Elizabeth Denler -- BRONZE
G10S Red, Aarya Shetty -- GOLD
G10S Red, Alea Guiraud -- SILVER
G10S Blue, Aanshi Thakur -- GOLD
G10D, Aanshi Thakur/Elizabeth Denler  -- SILVER
G10D, Alea Guiraud/Aarya Shetty -- BRONZE

Overall Results -- Country Standings
World Cup -- Girls
1. Bolivia
2. Mexico
3. USA
4. Costa Rica
World Cup -- Boys
1. Bolivia
2. Mexico
3. USA
4. Costa Rica
World Cup -- Combined
1. Bolivia
2. Mexico
3. USA
4. Costa Rica
Esprit Cup -- Girls
1. Bolivia
2. USA
3. Mexico
4. Costa Rica
Esprit Cup -- Boys
1. Mexico
2. Bolivia
3. Costa Rica
4. USA
Esprit Cup -- Combined
1. Bolivia
2. Mexico
3. USA
4. Costa Rica

Thank You’s
The US Junior Team Delegation wishes to deliver our gratitude to those who made this event so truly memorable:
Ambassador Sharon Day, U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, honored the U.S. Junior Team Delegation with her attendance at Opening Ceremonies on February 8th.
The IRF tournament staff and referees who came in from several countries to provide a quality experience for the players, including the significant gift that no player had to officiate the next match!
Pablo Fajre, Gary Mazaroff, and Gustavo Farell for live streaming the action to racquetball fans near and far.
The staff of the Hyatt Place who were friendly, efficient, and responsive to all requests. It was truly a "home away from home" for our delegation.
The owners, management, and staff of the Indoor Club for providing a first-class facility for this World Juniors competition. Also, the club employees who kept the entire racquetball area and the courts themselves clean throughout the event.
The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) and Costa Rica Federation President Marcelo Gómez for their tireless efforts to organize and execute this extremely well planned event. Their service to the 13 countries who came to compete was efficient, friendly, and never to be forgotten. Every person from every country (not just the players and staff) who traveled to this event received a tournament shirt and a welcome bag from the LOC -- a very nice touch. 
Coach Jen Meyer, Kadambari Beelwar, Gina Perez, Rhonda Kimler, Mary Beth Baron, and Armando Perez for assistance above and beyond the call of duty. And, a special shout-out to blog contributors Aarya Shetty and Steve Slutzky. 
The parents and cheerleaders who were there for every match, living every point as if they were out there playing themselves. 
Once again, to the state associations, organizations, and individuals who made contributions for team meals (see blog #7) -- you guys are the best! 
USAR Official Apparel Sponsor Rollout Racquetball (Jonathan Clay) -- thanks for making the US Junior Team look so good!
Renée Gundolff, USA Racquetball staff member, who assisted the team with multiple duties behind the scenes: US Junior Team contracts, timeline communication, insurance set-up, and parent and private coach certifications, to name a few. 
Leo Vasquez who stopped whatever else he might have been doing as soon as a blog and photos were ready for posting, and USAR staff member Rachel Hyman who did a super job on social media visibility. 
All the individuals who made contributions large and small...every bit counts! The Team USA Challenge on www.usaracquetball.com provides the opportunity for racquetball players to support the US Teams with their participation at international competitions. Please remember us on Giving Tuesday!
Personal note: To my husband Kit Lawson who always supports me 100% and never more than now...you are my best friend! <3
"When you fight with all you have and commit to exceeding expectations, you don't need a trophy to be a champion." -- Unknown
The mark of champions is how they handle themselves, win or lose, as they pursue their dreams. Congratulations to all 29 champions on the US Junior Team. USA Racquetball and the US Team staff couldn't be more proud of this team and this delegation. A group of 90 people arrived together, met, visited, celebrated wins, lamented losses, and are leaving tomorrow as family. It was a privilege to be a part of this delegation. 
-- Cheryl Kirk 
P.S. As mentioned above, this isn't the end! Head Coach Charlie Pratt and Esprit Coach Jen Meyer are preparing their final comments, and you'll see one more blog recapping the entire event the first of the week! Get your coffee and brownie ready...

Blog #9
Friday, November 15, 2019
Coaches Charlie and Robbie Report In...
Friday featured semifinals in all divisions. USA advanced to the finals in eight divisions. A few highlights:
Sonya Shetty had a great tiebreaker win 11-8 in Girls 12 Singles.
Heather Mahoney also had a tiebreaker win 11-8 against Bolivia.
Nikhil Prasad won in two games against Colombia. 
Nikhil and Timmy played Mexico in perhaps the most epic match of the tournament, 15-14, 14-15, 11-8. It was crazy. Timmy and Nikhil were up 14-11 in the second game, but Mexico came back to force a tiebreaker. USA was down 8-1 in the tiebreaker, then went on an 10-0 run to earn a spot in the finals tomorrow. Sitting in the coach's chair was Robbie Collins with Andrew Gleason next to him. Andrew played against the same team with Timmy in the pool play before his pectoral injury. It was great to have Andrew there advising. It is very likely that without his help, we might not have won the match.

Friday's Results
G14S, Ava Kaiser lost to Mexico, 12-15, 14-15
G14S, Heather Mahoney def. Bolivia, 15-9, 6-15, 11-9
B14S, Nikhil Prasad def. Colombia, 15-6, 15-8
B16S, Timmy Hansen lost to Bolivia, 15-8, 9-15, 5-11
G16S, Annie Roberts lost to Costa Rica, 1-15, 2-15
G14D, Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser lost to Mexico, 1-15, 1-15
B16D, Nikhil Prasad/Timmy Hansen def. Mexico, 15-14, 14-15, 11-8
G18D, Nikita Chauhan/Erin Slutzky lost to Mexico, 6-15, 3-15
G10S, Blue Division, Aanshi Thakur def. Guatemala, 15-7, 9-15, 11-10
B10S, Blue Division, Ashton Guiraud def. Mexico, 15-5, 15-14 
B12S, Red Division, Advait Kartik lost to Bolivia, 5-15, 0-15 
G10S, Red Division, Alea Guiraud def. Costa Rica, 15-3, 15-9
G10S, Red Division, Aarya Shetty def. Guatemala, 15-6, 15-6 
B12S, Blue Division, Joseph Marshall lost to Mexico, 4-15, 6-15
G12S, Sonya Shetty def. Mexico, 11-15, 15-12, 11-8 
G10S, Elizabeth Denler lost to Mexico, 5-15, 4-15
G10D, Aanshi Thakur/Elizabeth Denler def. Alea Guiraud/Aarya Shetty, 15-4, 15-1 
B12S, Angel Galvan lost to Mexico, 5-15, 4-15
B12S, Eshan Ali lost to Mexico, 10-15, 6-15
G12D, Sonya Shetty/Ava Naworski lost to Mexico, 4-15, 4-15
B12D, Angel Galvan/Eshan Ali lost to Mexico, 6-15, 3-15
Questions of the Day
What's your idea of a perfect day?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- I think every day is a perfect day in disguise.
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Going to the causeway with friends, hanging out on hammocks on the beach, listening to music, and then getting frozen yogurt. 
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Racquetball, street tacos, hiking
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Racquetball in the morning, Netflix and going to the park
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- A perfect day is when it's cloudy but it's warm, with a slight cooling breeze. It's the perfect weather to go out and play outside. It's not too hot, not too cold.
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Hanging out on Bahama beaches with friends and eating delicious local foods
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Hanging with friends, doing just about anything. Any water activity. I love the outdoors.
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Spending a day on the beach when the weather is just warm with friends or family.
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Sleeping, watching TV, and hanging out with my friends.
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Going to the beach with my friends. 
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Waking up, getting ready and making a meal, eating it, earning my tech access early, training, getting most of my homework done, talking to some friends and going to bed late. 
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- Eat good food all three meals
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Painting, eating cotton candy and dim sum pineapple buns
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Camp outside and watch a movie
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Sitting in a room full of animals that I want, with an all-you-can-eat buffet plus a chocolate fountain
Micah Farmer, 19 -- A day spent outdoors in the Cascades
Ben Baron, 19 -- Sleep in, go to the gym, and just hang out with friends. 
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Sunny, at the beach
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Sunny warm beach days with friends
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Wake up at 5, do cardio, on court at 6, weight run at 11, lunch, go to a lake, and go biking.
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- I get up, go to school, come home, and then go play racquetball.
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- A sunny Saturday in Cancun and going swimming with the dolphins.
Josh Shea, 15 -- Win a racquetball tournament then eat some good food.
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- To go to Heaven without dying
Angel Galvan, 12 -- A day where the sun is shining, but not too hot, not too cold. When everyone is calm and happy, and I can go outside and do something without having to worry about a single thing. 
Eshan Ali, 12 -- Playing video games and being with friends.
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Sitting on the couch after a productive day.
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Playing racquetball
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Not getting in trouble or being sad, just having fun
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Waking up, buying a phone and Nintendo switch, playing the last game of world championships and winning finals, hanging out with my mom and dad, playing my new phone and Nintendo switch, eating my mom's best homemade pizza and Oreo dirt cake, and going to sleep.

What's your dream job?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- I’d love to work for NASA or have my own company to build medical products.
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Since I was little, I thought being an actor would be cool, but I was shy. I also don't think I could be serious for more than 5 minutes without laughing. 
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Sports physical therapist
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- I want to be a lawyer or a speechwriter.
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- I want to be an actuary 
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Sports therapist
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Being a veterinarian
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Physical therapist
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- To be a doctor
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Artificial Intelligence Engineer (AIE)
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- A doctor
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Artist/Racquetball player
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Contractor
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- An animal doctor
Micah Farmer, 19 -- A professional mountaineer
Ben Baron, 19 -- Physical therapist
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Police officer
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Actor
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Stockbroker
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- To be an executive in a Fortune 500 company.
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I would like to be a surgeon.
Josh Shea, 15 -- Anesthesiologist
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Working with animals
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Professional athlete
Eshan Ali, 12 -- Doctor
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Neuro Engineering
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- To be a pilot
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Maybe be a coach
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Becoming a pediatrician
COACH INTERVIEW #4 -- Tony Carson
by Aarya Shetty (Esprit Girls 10 Singles and Doubles)
How long have you played?  I have played for 28 years. 
Why did you start playing?My mom played competitively in Wisconsin and introduced me. 
What is your favorite food?Stir-fry or sushi
What is your dream pet? Folklore from The Neverending Story
What are your other hobbies?I enjoy hiking, playing hockey, snowboarding, gardening, and golf.
What talents do you have?I'm very athletic, and I'm good at gardening. 
Dad’s World Championships (DWC), Part II
by Steve Slutzky (Erin's dad)
It was another great day at the DWC! Steve Slutzky lifted the lid off of the toilet bowl and squeaked out a win. In fact, his partner Pendem said he’d never seen such an inspirational game in his life. Unfortunately for Pendem, he continued to play with Steve, and his winning streak is history. The teams were evenly matched with everyone taking at least one game until the final. I don’t remember who won, but all that matters is, it wasn’t me. The Team USA coaches did not make it out this morning. We're not sure why, but they may have had other things on their minds. 
Tomorrow is the last day of competition for our dads, and everyone is getting ready. Who will drink from the Golden Chalice and bring the coveted Golden Plunger back to the States? Racquetball Stats is predicting age before beauty. Laying even odds that someone will bring home the prize, my money is on Team USA!
Here are the results of the theme song competition:
1.    I’m too Sexy For My Shirt – negative 2 votes – everyone is sick of this song
2.    Sharp Dressed Man – 3 votes – two guys with remarkably long beards, and a drummer
3.    What a Drag it is Getting Old – 45 votes
4.    Stairway to Heaven – 45 votes
The surprise write-in winner was “I’m a Little Teacup," which closed the competition with a whopping 652 votes! Since our system is messed up, Rick Kaiser may actually have voted for his write-in favorite 652 times. The Rules Committee has been notified for a decision.

Already, it's "Finals Saturday"!
After an intense day of competition, the World Cup players (18s, 16s, 14s) and US Team coaches gathered at Pikeos, a Peruvian restaurant in the hotel complex that is a strong favorite of US Adult Team players who have competed in San José at events over the past couple of years. We're talking Rhonda Rajsich, Rocky Carson, Bobby Horn, and...Charlie Pratt. Hey, what a coincidence the team ended up dining at Pikeos tonight! 
On a very grateful note, this dinner was funded by the generous donations of State Associations across the country mentioned in Blog #7. The team enjoyed great food and each other's company at this well-deserved dinner. We can't say enough about their heart and spirit here as well as every cross-court pass, pinch-kill, high lob-z, and killer drive serve that we wish we had ourselves! 
So it's time for the finals! Please send your best vibes to the U.S. Junior Team tomorrow:
9:00, G10S, Blue Division, Aanshi Thakur vs. Costa Rica
10:00, G14S, Heather Mahoney vs. Mexico
10:00, B14S, Nikhil Prasad vs. Bolivia
10:00, B10S, Blue Division, Ashton Guiraud vs. Bolivia 
11:00, G10S, Red Division, Alea Guiraud vs. Aarya Shetty
1:00, G12S, Sonya Shetty vs. Mexico 
2:00, G10D, Aanshi Thakur/Elizabeth Denler vs. Bolivia
2:00, B16D, Timmy Hansen/Nikhil Prasad vs. Bolivia
Awards Ceremonies, then It's Party Time!
On Saturday after the last match of the tournament is finished, the Awards Ceremonies will be held on the basketball court at the Indoor Club where Opening Ceremonies took place just last week (seems like a lot longer ago than that!). Medals will be awarded for each age division (gold, silver, and two bronze)Teamtrophies (1st through 4th) will be given for World Cup and Esprit Cup.
Once the ceremonies are complete, there will likely be shirt-trading going on! Souvenirs for life! Players from the 13 countries will come together in fun and friendship to say goodbye, and they will vow to stay in contact until next time, regardless of language barriers. They always seem to find a way to communicate! 
The closing party will begin at the club directly after the Awards Ceremonies. The Costa Ricans throw a great party, so we'll be looking for a lot of fun photos! 
But I digress...it's the final day of the IRF World Junior Championships, and nine of our US Junior Team players will be competing in finals matches. The rest will be cheering them on! Good luck to everyone in the finals: GO TEAM USA!!

Blog #8
Thursday, November 14, 2019
Thursday Recap from Coach Charlie
Quarterfinal Thursday is always a pivotal day at the World Junior Championships. The winners are guaranteed a medal. The word of the day is "podium." Team USA had a total 21 quarterfinal matches today. Here are some notable ones:
Sonya Shetty won her match against Bolivia on Court 5, one of the white floor courts. Today was noticeably hotter than the other days. With the combination of rain yesterday and sunshine this morning, Courts 5 and 6 are a lot like greenhouses when the sun is shining. Sonya handled the heat and took care of business, winning in two games and advancing to the semifinals tomorrow. 
Later in the day, Annie Roberts played Lupita Griffin, the #1 seed in Girls 16s. They played on Court 5, but this time it was pouring rain. The viewing area has large windows looking outside. You can see mountains and jungle from the court. It is actually a very cool environment. Lupita won the first game and Annie won the second. Annie went up 3-0, then Lupita went up 8-3. Annie called her last timeout, then went on an 8-0 run to win the match 11-8. It was a great match and a great win for Annie.
Alea Guiraud and Aarya Shetty played the quarterfinals of Girls 10 Doubles. They played a team of sisters from Costa Rica who are firecrackers on the racquetball court. Alea and Aarya were in full control, winning the first game handily and up big in the second. But Costa Rica hung tough and forced a tiebreaker. The tiebreaker was back and forth with crazy rallies, dives and fist pumps. Alea and Aarya (A-Team members!) won 11-7, much to the excitement of their parents and all of Team USA. They are now guaranteed a medal and play our other Girls 10 Doubles team, Elizabeth Denler and Aanshi Thakur, in the semifinal tomorrow.
Due to a pectoral injury in the final round of pool play, Andrew Gleason was forced to withdraw from the tournament. We were able to replace him with Nikhil Prasad, who is our #1 Boys 14 Singles player. Timmy Hansen and Nikhil teamed up against Costa Rica on Court 1 and put on a clinic. They won in two games and play in the semifinals tomorrow.

G14S, Ava Kaiser def. Guatemala, 15-6, 15-7
G14S, Heather Mahoney def. Guatemala, 15-3, 15-7
B14S, Vedant Chauhan lost to Bolivia, 13-15, 15-11, 0-11
B14S, Nikhil Prasad def. Colombia, 15-2, 15-6
B16S, Timmy Hansen def. Mexico, 15-10, 15-7
B18S, Ben Baron lost to Bolivia, 4-15, 6-15
G16S, Annie Roberts def. Mexico, 12-15, 15-4, 11-8
G16S, Erin Slutzky lost to Bolivia, 0-15, 13-15
G18S, Graci Wargo lost to Argentina, 8-15, 1-15
G18S, Nikita Chauhan lost to Ecuador, 6-15, 6-15
B14D, Josh Shea/Vedant Chauhan lost to Ireland, 15-3, 14-15, 10-11
G14D, Ava Kaiser/Kareena Mathew def. Canada, 15-2, 15-8
G16D, Alondra Canchola/Annie Roberts lost to Costa Rica, 5-15, 12-15
B16D, Nikhil Prasad/Timmy Hansen def. Costa Rica, 15-3, 15-6
G18D, Erin Slutzky/Nikita Chauhan def. Costa Rica, 15-3, 15-1
B18D, Dylan Pruitt/Josh Shea lost to Ecuador 14-15, 11-15
B10S Blue, Ashton Guiraud def. Costa Rica, 15-4, 15-3
B12S Red, Advait Kartik def. Colombia, 15-2, 15-8
B10S Blue, Caleb Marshall lost to Bolivia, 4-15, 2-15
B12S Blue, Joseph Marshall def. Costa Rica, 15-12, 15-6
G12S, Sonya Shetty def. Bolivia, 15-8, 15-4
G10D, Alea Guiraud/Aarya Shetty def. Costa Rica, 15-6, 13-15, 11-7 
B10D, Caleb Marshall/Ashton Guiraud lost to Bolivia, 7-15, 6-15
B12D, Angel Galvan/Eshan Ali def. Colombia, 15-7, 15-1
B12D, Joseph Marshall/Advait Kartik lost to Costa Rica, 15-14, 10-15, 9-11

Questions of the Day
What is your favorite word in Spanish?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Chiquita (petite)
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Bonita (pretty)
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Raquetbolista (female racquetball player)
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Empanadas (empanadas)
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Familia (familiy)
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- ¡ay!  (Oh!)
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Viajar (to travel)
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Fiesta (party)
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Loco (crazy) because it describes me
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Las uvas (the grapes)
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Aterrizar (to land)
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- Raquetbol (duh)
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Cielo de algodón de azúcar(cotton candy sky)
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Esperanza (hope)
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Taco (taco)
Micah Farmer, 19 -- Taco
Ben Baron, 19 -- Pelota (ball)
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Hazlo (do it)
Andrew Gleason, 16 --Pollo (chicken)
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- Dame cinco (high five)
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- Senorita (miss)
Josh Shea, 15 -- Pongo (put)
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Abejorro (bumblebee)
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Esperate (wait)
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- Hola (hello)
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Taco
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Hola
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Siete (seven)
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Hola
Coaches and TL chime in:
Jody Nance -- Barbilla (chin)
Jen Meyer -- Corazón (heart)
Cheryl Kirk -- Estacionamiento (parking lot)
Charlie Pratt -- Madrugada (early morning)
Robbie Collins -- Bistec (steak)

What item would you grab first if your house were on fire (besides people, pets, or electronics)?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Water/hose
Graci Wargo, 18 -- My memory box. It has tons of photos and items that I feel are important.
Annie Roberts, 17 -- My school backpack
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- My sweatpants
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- My racquetball bag
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- My sports memorabilia, snow globe collection, and my bass
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- My racquetball medals, awards, photos, and trinkets from my travels
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- I'm not sure because I think that would be an in-the-moment decision.
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- My racquetball bag
Ava Naworski, 13 -- My snow globe
Adriana Perez, 13 -- My sports competition medals
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- Clothes
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Ellie, my stuffed elephant
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Pink blanket
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Food or money
Micah Farmer, 19 -- My snacks
Ben Baron, 19 -- My baseball glove
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- My racquet
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- My wallet
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- In winter...a coat!
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- I would grab a pair of shoes to run in. 
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I would grab food. 
Josh Shea, 15 -- Probably some snacks and shoes. 
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Legos
Angel Galvan, 12 -- My money, just in case we need it later for food or any necessities
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- My emergency kit
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Fahrenheit 451  (Note: Very clever, Advait!)
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- My racquetball gear
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- My lamb
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- My two treasure chests
COACH INTERVIEWS #2 and #3 -- Jen Meyer and Charlie Pratt
by Aarya Shetty (Esprit Girls 10 Singles and Doubles)
Coach Jen
What is your favorite movie? Mamma Mia
Do you like playing or coaching better? I love both for very different reasons. Coaching is very rewarding and also more exhausting.
What is the most exciting thing you have ever done (e.g., skydiving)? Went for a ride on the top of a mountain. The ride was actually a slingshot that swung out over a canyon with a 2,500 ft. drop. 
What is the best place you have ever traveled? Costa Rica, because they are very friendly
Were you a good student in school? Yes (I am a teacher)
Do you have siblings? Do you get along? Yes, a sister and a brother. They are my best friends and I love them!
Coach Charlie
What is your favorite movie? That is tough. Forrest Gump
Do you like playing or coaching? (paused, smiled) Playing
What is the most exciting thing you have ever done (e.g., skydiving)? Going on fishing trips with my Grandfather.
What is the best place you have ever traveled? Hawaii, the climate is very nice
Were you a good student in school? No, I was not a very good student; it was very hard for me. I mostly cared about sports, but I loved to learn either way.
Do you have siblings? Did you get along?  I have a younger sister named Katie -- she is two years younger. She lives in Hong Kong with her husband Travis and one-year-old baby, Auley, my nephew. Travis is a pilot so they have lived around the world. For the most part, we got along.
(Note: great questions, Aarya!)
Here's a late-breaking blog feature on a topic related very closely to the main blog. We'll call it a sub-blog... 
Dad’s World Championships (DWC)
by Steve Slutzky (Erin's dad)
The DWC began on Monday morning way too early. The first challenge was getting everyone to stop drinking coffee and get on the shuttle to the club. There was a lot of trash talking on that ride, which will not be repeated here. 
The coaches came out to act as line judges. Surprisingly, most of the coaches were easily bribed the night before (Tony – cheesecake, Charlie – half a plantain). However, Robbie Collins refused to be corrupted even after being offered a whole plantain. I made sure he didn’t line judge any of my matches.
Here’s the list of competitors:
Armando Perez (CA) – Adriana’s dad
Pendem Prasad (CA) – Nikhil’s dad
Tim Hansen (FL) – Timmy’s dad
Lee Pruitt (MD) – Dylan's dad
Rick Kaiser (MN) – Ava’s dad
Anwar Ali (CA) – Eshan’s dad
Rakesh Thakur (CA) – Aanshi’s dad
Prem Mathew (OR) – Kareena’s dad
Steve Slutzky (MO) – Erin’s dad
Mark Baron (AZ) - Ben’s uncle
Brian Ancheta (OR) – Pretending to be Annie’s dad (I think he was paid off!) 
Mick Cunningham (Team Ireland) – also our shuttle coordinator – our very own "Cheryl Kirk"!
Match play was intense as we all competed for the Golden Plunger. Steve Slutzky is in the lead for winning the Toilet Bowl! We all agree that this is a highlight of our trip to Costa Rica, and (oh, yeah) we get to watch our kids play, too!  Bonus!
Our first Question of the Day on Tuesday was "How sore are you?" No replies were received; I think everyone was napping. The Wal-Mart near the hotel ran out of Ibuprofen, so I think we know the answer to that question.
We took a break on Tuesday to recover and were back at it on Wednesday and Thursday. Rumors are that Pendem is still undefeated. We are all shooting for him. For his safety, he has isolated himself in his hotel room. 
We’re still deciding on our musical theme. In the running are:
1.    I'm Too Sexy For My Shirt
2.    Sharp Dressed Man
3.    What a Drag it is Getting Old
4.    Stairway to Heaven
Today we asked for everyone to complete the following sentence: After I’m done playing my matches, I ...
Brian Ancheta – feel ready for the day
Armando Perez – drink a cup of coffee and chill
Prem Mathew – can go back to bed knowing I sweated enough to have another dessert that day (or two)  
Steve Slutzky – take a luxurious bath and cry
Responses were pretty limited, presumably due to naptime. We’ll be back at it Friday at the crack of dawn! Stay tuned...
It's Semifinal Friday!!
1:00, G14S, Ava Kaiser vs. Mexico
1:00, G14S, Heather Mahoney vs. Bolivia
2:00, B14S, Nikhil Prasad vs. Colombia
3:00, B16S, Timmy Hansen vs. Bolivia
3:00, G16S, Annie Roberts vs. Costa Rica
5:00, G14D, Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser vs. Mexico
6:00, B16D, Nikhil Prasad/Timothy Hansen vs. Mexico
7:00, G18D, Nikita Chauhan/Erin Slutzky vs. Canada or Mexico
9:00, G10S, Blue Division, Aanshi Thakur vs. Guatemala 
10:00, B10S, Blue Division, Ashton Guiraud vs. Mexico 
10:00, B12S, Red Division, Advait Kartik vs. Bolivia 
11:00, G10S, Red Division, Alea Guiraud vs. Costa Rica
11:00, G10S, Red Division, Aarya Shetty vs. Guatemala 
11:00, B12S, Blue Division, Joseph Marshall vs. Mexico 
12:00, G12S, Sonya Shetty vs. Mexico 
12:00, G10S, Elizabeth Denler vs. Mexico 
1:00, G10D, Aanshi Thakur/Elizabeth Denler vs. Alea Guiraud/Aarya Shetty 
1:00, B12S, Angel Galvan vs. Mexico
1:00, B12S, Eshan Ali vs. Mexico 
2:00, G12D, Sonya Shetty/Ava Naworski vs. Mexico
3:00, B12D, Angel Galvan/Eshan Ali vs. Mexico 
There are no playoffs for third in IRF events. Instead, third and fourth place finishers both get bronze medals. Tomorrow, the results of the matches will determine who goes into the finals on Saturday, playing for gold or silver. Good luck to all, and...

Blog #7
Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Head Coach Charlie Pratt Reports In

Day One of the singles elimination bracket went very well for USA. We had some great wins in singles throughout the day in both Esprit and World Cup competition. The team has clearly stepped up their game for the main draws, and it is exciting to watch. Here are a few notable matches:
Eshan Ali played Costa Rica and was down 13-6 in the second game after losing the first. He was also down 14-9 but came back to win 15-14, then won the tiebreaker 11-1. That's a 20-2 run!
Angel Galvan played at the same time as Eshan and also won in a tiebreaker 11-4. Eshan and Angel are into the semifinals of 12 and under! Our first medals!
Ben Baron played a tough Canadian on Court 1. It was a tough match, point for point, but Ben had a solid game plan and executed it well. It is great to see Ben playing so well in his first and only Junior World Championships. He is into the quarterfinals tomorrow against #1 seed Gerson Miranda from Bolivia. It will be a great match!
Erin Slutzky played Costa Rica on Court 1 which was being streamed on the IRF Facebook page. The bleachers were packed with both USA fans and the home crowd of Costa Rica. Erin was winning the first game, but the Costa Rican got hot and won 15-14. Erin stayed tough and won the second game 15-8, then won the tiebreaker 11-5. It was a long and exciting match, and perhaps Erin's best victory to date. Both Erin and Annie are into the quarterfinals of 16 Singles.
Graci Wargo won her match in a tiebreaker and put on a "serving clinic" according to Coach Robbie Collins. Graci is now into the quarterfinals of 18 Singles along with Nikita who won in commanding fashion. 
Tomorrow is going to be a very exciting day. Go USA!
Wednesday's Results
B18S, Micah Farmer lost to Ecuador, 12-15, 12-15
G14S, Heather Mahoney def. Costa Rica, 15-4, 15-3
G14S, Ava Kaiser def. Canada, 15-5, 15-7
B14S, Vedant Chauhan def. Ireland, 15-1, 15-1
B14S, Nikhil Prasad def. Ireland, 15-0, 15-5
B18S, Ben Baron def. Canada, 15-11, 15-5
B16S, Timmy Hansen def. Costa Rica, 15-4, 15-1
G16S, Annie Roberts def. Cuba, 15-0, 15-1
G16S, Erin Slutsky def. Costa Rica, 14-15, 15-8, 11-5
G18S, Gracie Wargo def. Canada, 15-5, 14-15, 11-0 
G18S, Nikita Chauhan def, Costa Rica, 15-5, 15-6
B12S, Angel Galvin def. Colombia, 15-7, 14-15, 11-3
B12S, Eshan Ali def. Costa Rica, 6-15, 15-14, 11-1
G12S, Adriana Perez lost to Bolivia 7-15, 6-15
G12S, Ava Naworski lost to Costa Rica, 1-15, 6-15
G10S, Aanshi Thakur lost to Ecuador, 6-15, 13-15
G10S, Elizabeth Denler def. Bolivia, 15-10, 15-12
B10D, Caleb Marshall/Ashton Guiraud def. Guatemala, 15-1, 15-0
B12D, Angel Galvan/Eshan Ali def. Korea, 15-0, 15-1
B12D, Joseph Marshall/Advait Kartik def. Colombia, 15-3, 15-4
A shout out to Andrew Gleason -- even though he couldn't continue due to his injury (as reported yesterday), he was at every match today, cheering and recording scores to help out. That's teamwork!

Questions of the Day
If you could have lunch with anyone living who would it be?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Michelle Obama
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Post Malone
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Serena Williams
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Barack Obama
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Johnny Depp or Gabriela Martinez
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Patrick Mahomes
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Jennifer Aniston
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Carli Lloyd
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Serena Williams
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Jennifer Lawrence
Adriana Perez, 13 -- My little cousin Keegan
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- Emma Watson
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Yayoi Kusama
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Aarya, my doubles partner!
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Obama
Micah Farmer, 19 -- Joe Rogan
Ben Baron, 19 -- Robert Downey, Jr. 
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Adam Sandler
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Kylie Jenner, Bill Gates
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Coach Winterton.  He has fascinating stories.
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- Warren Buffett, because I would love to gain knowledge about the business world. 
Josh Shea, 15 -- Gael Monfils
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Will Smith
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Juice WRLD
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- My mom
Advait Kartik, 13 -- My brother
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Rocky Carson
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Rocky Carson
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Russell M. Nelson

What accomplishment are you most proud of (besides making the US Junior Team)?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Getting into UC Berkeley
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Earning an "A" in in my English Composition college class.
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Aside from racquetball, I'm most proud of my academic accomplishments as far as GPA and higher-level classes because school has never come easy to me. I've always had to work hard for my grades. 
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Overcoming my concussion
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- My school performance
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Making my varsity HS soccer team as a freshman
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- A 4.0 GPA
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Getting to the finals in Worlds my first year on the team
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Winning the World Championships
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Winning three Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments back-to-back!
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- Getting all A's last year
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Falling down a mountain
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Winning a racquetball tournament
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Playing saxophone
Micah Farmer, 19 -- Getting Eagle Scout
Ben Baron, 19 -- Making the Arizona All-Star baseball team for high school my senior year
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Getting honor roll and passing Electrical 1
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Worlds Gold Medal in Mexico 2018
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- 14 Doubles at Worlds last year
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- Being able to win Worlds last year
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I am proud of wining high-level robotics competitions. 
Josh Shea, 15 -- Getting good grades and playing other sports well
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Catching my first fish with a reel
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Being able to compete with people older and more experienced and being able to put in a good game against them and possibly win. 
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- Finishing the Holy Quran
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Getting into Flintridge Preparatory School
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Win B doubles in 18 and under, beat Annie and Alondra 11-10, 11-10
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Being undefeated in football
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Getting baptized or winning Math Olympiad
More Letters (aka Email) from Home
Dan Whitley (President, USA Racquetball Board of Directors):Congratulations to each of you on making it to the World Championships and on your results this week! You are doing awesome! This is a huge accomplishment that took hard work and perseverance. Keep up the great work and momentum! USA Racquetball is proud to have you represent us; we believe in all of you. Have fun and good luck! GO TEAM USA!
Joanna Pomodoro (USA Racquetball Board of Directors/Boston): You are all so very talented and blessed to have this opportunity to represent us all. What I would have given to be in your shoes. I didn't start playing until I was in my 30's. Now at 67 I still love this game for all it has given me and will in the future. Your teammates will be your friends for life, and that is a valuable gift no one can ever take away from you. Good luck moving forward!
Kendra Tutsch (President, Women's Senior Masters Racquetball Association/Wisconsin):I'm learning our US Junior Team is quite interesting and multitalented! Warm wishes for great success from chilly Wisconsin! Go USA!
On the serious side...
The International Racquetball Federation is committed to anti-doping education and compliance with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Here at the World Junior Championships, a presentation on this important topic is being offered each day throughout the week (three times in Spanish and twice in English). Players are the focus of this educational initiative, but parents, family members, and coaches are also invited to attend. The Kartik, Guiraud, Perez, and Marshall families attended on Tuesday and found it to be interesting and enlightening. The rest of the delegation has the opportunity to learn more about anti-doping on Thursday at 5:00 pm in the second English session or Friday at 3:00 pm in the last Spanish session. 
On a lighter topic...
Enthusiasm amongst spectators is alive and well from all countries here at World Juniors. Cheering, chanting, clapping...and noisemakers! Team USA has cowbells. The cowbell tradition began over the last couple of years, and when you're in the vicinity of any court and hear cowbells, you know it's a Team USA match. Prem Mathew (Kareena's dad) has done his part to promote the spirit. The shirts Prem brought––"More Cowbell"–– are a hit! (Note: View the Saturday Night Live skit with Will Farrell and Christopher Walken from Season 5 in 2000 on YouTube.)
Feeding the Team...Much Gratitude to the Racquetball Family
It's no secret that Head Coach Charlie Pratt is seriously dedicated to healthy eating. Food is a passion of his, and several weeks ago, Charlie decided to see if the racquetball family across the country would like to help fund some meals for the players in Costa Rica. Apparently, when Charlie asks, racquetball peeps deliver; we were overwhelmed with the response. 
On Monday, we purchased gift cards from the popular Taco Bar restaurant near the hotel and distributed them to the 29 players. Taco Bar is a delicious and economical place to eat. The cards had to be used in one sitting, so the players' families have been able to partake as well (with the possible exception of the Boys 18 group!). 
Tuesday night was the traditional Esprit dinner where players and their families were treated to dinner at La Fonda Azteca, also near the hotel. Thanks to Elizabeth Denler's fundraising efforts as well as to the California/Nevada Racquetball Association (CNRA), and Reaching Your Dream Foundation (RYDF), everyone in the Esprit (12s and 10s group) had the chance to share a meal together. It was a lot of fun to watch the kids having a great time and (per the request of parents and Coach Jen) cleaning up the area around their table afterward! Special thanks go to Gina Perez and Kads Beelwar for their help in organizing the dinner. <3
Thanks to the generosity of the following persons and state associations, the rest of this week provides the opportunity for some creative meal planning (due to the varied playing schedules). Any funds that are left over will go directly to support the families' considerable expenses in bringing their players to World Juniors. Our gratitude goes to Wendall Pelham (Live Like John), Elizabeth Denler, Mark Baron, Stewart Solomon, Head Penn, RYDF, the Oregon High School Racquetball Association, and the following State associations: Alabama, California/Nevada, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, and New Hampshire. 
We definitely feel the love!
Unsung Heroes
The parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are contributing their time and resources to bring the kids to another country to compete. They live and die by every point or skip, make sure their players are hydrated and well fed, and give them their space when needed. From my vantage point, they are heroes; from theirs, they are just doing what they do every day. 
Thursday's Schedule (Horario jueves)
Three days of competition to go! It's pretty crazy how you can arrive here and eleven days seems so long. In the blink of an eye, it's the end of the second week and the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals are upon us! 
11:30 am, G14S, Ava Kaiser vs. Guatemala
12:30 pm, G14S, Heather Mahoney vs. Guatemala
12:30 pm, B14S, Vedant Chauhan vs. Bolivia
12:30 pm, B14S, Nikhil Prasad vs. Colombia
1:30 pm, B16S, Timmy Hansen vs. Mexico
1:30 pm, B18S, Ben Baron vs. Bolivia
2:30 pm, G16S, Annie Roberts vs. Mexico
2:30 pm, G16S, Erin Slutzky vs. Bolivia
3:30 pm, G18S, Graci Wargo  vs. Argentina
3:30 pm, G18S, Nikita Chauhan vs. Ecuador
5:30 pm, B14D, Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea vs. Ireland
5:30 pm, G14D, Kareena Mathew/Ava Kaiser vs. Canada
6:30 pm, G16D, Alondra Canchola/Annie Roberts vs. Costa Rica
7:30 pm, B16D, Nikhil Prasad/Timmy Hansen vs. Costa Rica
8:30 pm, G18D, Nikita Chauhan/Erin Slutzky vs. Costa Rica
8:30 pm, B18D, Dylan Pruitt/Josh Shea vs. Ecuador
9:45 am, B10S Blue, Ashton Guiraud vs. Costa Rica
9:45 am, B12S Red, Advait Kartik vs. Colombia
10:30 am, B10S Blue, Caleb Marshall vs. Bolivia
10:30 am, B12S Blue, Joseph Marshall vs. Costa Rica
11:30 am, G12S, Sonya Shetty vs. Bolivia
3:30 pm, G10D, Aarya Shetty/Alea Guiraud vs. Costa RIca
4:30 pm, B10D, Caleb Marshall/Ashton Guiraud vs. Bolivia 
4:30 pm, B12D, Eshan Ali/Angel Galvan vs. winner Colombia vs. Chile
5:30 pm, B12D, Joseph Marshall/Advait Kartik vs. Costa Rica
Let's do this!

Blog #6
Tuesday, November 12, 2019
During Andrew Gleason’s match against Korea, he sustained a chest muscle injury during the second game. While he continued on, the match ended with a loss in a tiebreaker. Afterwards, he attempted some treatment for the injury but wasn’t able to fully compete in doubles. Therefore, he and his partner Timmy had to forfeit during the first game of doubles versus Ecuador. Due to the injury, going into the main draw Andrew will not be competing, but in his words he will be the #1 cheerleader for Team USA.

Head Coach Charlie Pratt Recaps the Day...
Today was the final day of pool play that determined the seedings in the single elimination draw. USA is looking strong in every age group, and fortunately for us, only one bracket has two USA players on the same side of the draw. That means we have the opportunity to meet in the finals. The team had a meeting tonight to discuss the pool play phase and our mindset moving forward. We are all excited to continue the competition, which has been really fun so far. Our players are performing very well, and our cheering section is always in full force. It is such an amazing experience. 

Given Andrew's injury, he has embraced an advisory role and will help us in the Boys 16 Doubles. The IRF allows replacements for injured players. Although no one is able to replace Andrew in singles, Nikhil Prasad will take his spot in doubles with Timmy Hansen. Nikhil is excited and ready for the opportunity. He is dedicating the performance to Andrew.
Tuesday's Results
B14S, Nikhil Prasad def. Guatemala, 15-4, 15-5  
B14S, Vedant Chauahan def. Canada, 7-15, 15-0, 11-10
G14S, Ava Kaiser def. Guatemala, 15-14, 15-5
G14S, Heather Mahoney def. Guatemala, 15-10, 15-9
G16S, Erin Slutzky lost to Mexico, 8-15, 7-15
B16S, Andrew Gleason lost to Korea, 15-3, 13-15, 4-11
B16S, Timmy Hansen def. Canada, 15-4, 15-4
G18S, Nikita Chauhan def. Costa Rica, 15-1, 15-3
G18S, Graci Wargo def. Costa Rica, 15-7, 15-12
B18S, Ben Baron def. Ecuador, 15-11, 15-13
B18S, Micah Farmer lost to Ecuador, 15-10, 9-15, 9-11
G16D, Alondra Canchola/Annie Roberts def. Bolivia, 9-15, 5-15
G14D, Ava Kaiser/Kareena Mathew lost to Bolivia, 11-15, 3-15
B16D, Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen lost to Ecuador, 9-15, 0-15 (injury forfeit)
B14D, Josh Shea/Vedant Chauhan def. Ireland, 15-9, 15-7
G18D, Erin Slutzky/Nikita Chauhan def. Chile, 15-12, 15-3
G12S, Sonya Shetty def. Bolivia, 15-4, 15-8
G12 S, Adriana Perez lost to Mexico, 1-15, 8-15
G12S, Ava Naworski def. Chile, 15-8, 15-7
B10D, Caleb Marshall/Ashton Guiraud def. Guatemala, 15-0, 15-2
G12D, Ava Naworski/Sonya Shetty lost to Mexico, 15-7, 13-15, 3-11
G10D, Elizabeth Denler/Aanshi Thakur def. Guatemala, 15-5, 14-15, 11-1
B12D, Eshan Ali/Angel Galvan def. Chile, 15-5, 15-1
B12D, Advait Kartik/Joseph Marshall def. Chile, 15-5, 15-6
Questions of the Day
Do you have pets? If not, what pet would you like?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Yes, I have a Golden Lab named Simba
Graci Wargo, 18 -- I have a Miniature Goldendoodle and a bunny. 
Annie Roberts, 17 -- YES! I have a Chihuahua named Mini!
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- I have a dog, Toby, and a cat, Ally.
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Yes, I have 3 dogs, 2 cats and a lizard. My favorite are the dogs that consist of a German Shepherd named Veneno, and a Labrador named Casper, and a Cocker Spaniel named Bronze. 
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Yes! Cali is my Catahoula dog and Mittens is my tuxedo cat
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- I have a 5 year old Peking Duck and 2 year old turtle both which I hatched. I really want a goat.
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- I have one dog named Sona.
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- I have two dogs named Luna and Bridget
Ava Naworski, 13 -- YES - a little black dog named OLLY
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Yes!
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- I want a dog
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- A dog
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Yes
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- I have two dogs, and their names are Luna and Bridget
Micah Farmer, 19 -- I have a cat
Ben Baron, 19 -- I do not have any pets but if I could have one it would be a puppy.
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Yes, 2 cats
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- One dog, Flaco, hurricane rescue dog from Puerto Rico
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Copper our dog, Wal-Mart our kittie! I also would like a pit bull.
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I have a yellow lab named Simba.
Josh Shea, 15 -- A lizard, dog, two cats, lots of fish. I want a kangaroo.
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Not now, a puppy
Angel Galvan, 12 -- I have a dog named Peanut
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- No. I would like a snake.
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Goat
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Yes
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Not right now. Boy lion cub.
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- I don't have pets because I am allergic to cats and dogs. If I got a pet, it would be a pug (dog) or a turtle.
Besides racquetball, what do you know how to do that you could teach others?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Play the piano
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Piano
Annie Roberts, 17 -- I teach swim lessons!
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Buti yoga
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- I'm pretty good at sketching/drawing
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Soccer
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Swim and speak Spanish
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- I can teach others how to play soccer.
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- The trumpet
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Basketball, Volleyball, Soccer
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- How to play volleyball
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Art
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Volleyball
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Play saxophone
Micah Farmer, 19 -- Change tires
Ben Baron, 19 -- How to play baseball. I have played my entire life and have played it for much longer than racquetball. 
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Electrical work
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- How to be a daredevil and have fun doing it!
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- I could teach people how to play most of the mainstream sports.
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I do robotics and could teach others. 
Josh Shea, 15 -- Baseball
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Pickleball
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Basketball
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- Baseball
Advait Kartik, 13 -- How to twirl a pencil around your fingers.
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Soccer
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Football, basketball, baseball, soccer
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Piano or math

Future Journalist Makes International Debut in San José
Coach Interview #1 -- Jody Nance 
by Aarya Shetty (Esprit Girls 10 Singles and Doubles)
Aarya: How long have you played racquetball? 
Jody: 35 years
Aarya: Why did you start playing? 
Jody: My eligibility was over for track and field, and I wanted to find a sport to take its place. I played racquetball once in college and liked it, so I started playing.
Aarya: What is your favorite food? 
Jody: Artichokes and artichoke jalapeño dip (I have a great recipe). 
Aarya: What is your dream pet? 
Jody: An ocelot
Aarya: What are your other hobbies? 
Jody: Spinning and rowing (skulling)
Aarya: What talents do you have? 
Jody: Giving good hugs!
That's Dedication!
The flights from the U.S. to Costa Rica felt fairly arduous. For me, it was 3-1/2 hours to Fort Lauderdale, a nail-biter layover of maybe 15 minutes there, and 3 more hours to San José. 
That was NOTHING!
The delegation from Ireland flew 3 hours to Paris, had a 4-hour layover, and then it was 12 hours to San José. Even that long journey was no comparison with the South Korean delegation who flew 14 hours from Seoul, had a 10-hour layover at LAX, then toughed out 6 more hours to San José! Having both delegations here is very special. Because of them, IRF World Juniors is a four-continent competition!
Note: South Korean Coach Young-Mi Lee told me today that the team of Junho Choi and Eunho You (who played our team of Joseph Marshall and Advait Kartik on Monday evening) only began playing racquetball 8 months ago! They are fine players exhibiting good basics, and we look forward to seeing them at Worlds for many years to come!
More Letters (aka Email) from Home
Mike Wedel (Executive Director/USA Racquetball): We are so proud of the team, their intensity, focus, and dedication. Keep up the great job representing USA!
Scott Fish (USA Racquetball Board of Directors/Oregon): A letter to Annie, Bryan & Brian... Hope you are having a wonderful time in Costa Rica! It's been amazing to watch you represent Team USA and Oregon Racquetball!
Brett Elkins (California) :I must say I miss our friends and family at Worlds. It’s a special time for them. To make the team being top two in singles and winning in doubles means almost error-free ball. These kids are amazing athletes who not only have to make the team first and then try to win at Worlds. It’s a special thrill and honor that all of us dream of, but few ever get the chance to play for Team USA. The kids are that special and talented and they are even nicer people off the court with a special bond. We’re all very proud of you.
John O'Donnell, Jr. (Illinois): My best to all of the competitors -- PLAY WELL! GO USA!!!
Wednesday's Schedule (Horario miércoles)
As we move into the "main event," Team USA is ready to rumble! Send us your best wishes, thoughts, and vibes...here we go!
9:45 am, B18S, Micah Farmer vs. Ecuador
12:30 pm, G14S, Ava Kaiser vs. Canada
1:30 pm, G14S, Heather Mahoney vs. Costa Rica
2:30 pm, B14S, Vedant Chauhan vs. Ireland
3:30 pm, B14S, Nikhil Prasad vs. winner of Canada vs. Ireland
4:30 pm, B18S, Ben Baron vs. Canada
4:30 pm, B16S, Timmy Hansen vs. Costa Rica
6:30 pm, G16S, Annie Roberts vs. Cuba
7:30 pm, G16S, Erin Slutzky vs. Costa Rica
7:30 pm, G18S, Graci Wargo vs. Canada
8:30 pm, G18S, Nikita Chauhan vs. Costa Rica
10:30 am, B12S, Angel Galvan vs. Colombia
10:30 am, B12S, Eshan Ali vs. Costa Rica
11:30 am, G12S, Adriana Perez vs. Bolivia
11:30 am, G12S, Ava Naworski vs. Costa Rica
1:30 pm, G10S, Aanshi Thakur vs. Ecuador
1:30 pm, G10S, Elizabeth Denler vs. Bolivia
8:30 pm, B10D, Caleb Marshall/Ashton Guiraud vs. Guatemala
9:30 pm, B12D, Angel Galvan/Eshan Ali vs. Korea
9:30 pm, B12D, Joseph Marshall/Advait Kartik vs. Colombia
Remember, all draws and results can be viewed at www.internationalracquetball.com, and live streaming can be accessed there as well.
-- Cheryl Kirk
P.S. A shout out to Melissa Horner in Ankeny, Iowa -- Team USA wishes you a speedy recovery. We look forward to seeing the Horner family at Nationals in June!

Blog #5
Monday, November 11, 2019

Greetings from San José where the U.S. Junior Team Delegation continues to enjoy the hotel, the club, the surrounding restaurants, and some tours to exotic locales. There's a little bit of racquetball going on as well. Here's a recap of the third day of competition, with five more to go!
Coach Jody Nance weighs in on the day: 
Another beautiful overcast day here in San José! We had a very strong showing today from Team USA. With our first match scheduled at 11:00 am, we received a rare opportunity to sleep in (felt fabulous). Nine of our eleven singles players emerged victorious, most with two-game wins. Congrats to Heather, Ava N, Erin, Ava K, Annie, Andrew, Timmy, Gracie, and Micah.
It was a bit more challenging for our doubles teams: Ashton and Caleb (Boys 10) were strong pulling out an 11-6 tiebreaker over Costa Rica. Girls 18s Erin and Nikita had a decisive win over Bolivia. We endured close losses in Boys 16s and 18s as well as Girls 16s. We look forward to the last day of pool play tomorrow, then the athletes will get their seeding positions for the main draw that will begin immediately on Wednesday.

Monday's Results
G14S, Heather Mahoney def. Ecuador, 15-7, 15-3
G16S, Erin Slutzky def. Ecuador, 15-4, 15-3
G14S, Ava Kaiser def. Costa Rica, 15-3, 15-5 
G16S, Annie Roberts def. Ecuador, 15-3, 15-5   
B16S, Andrew Gleason def. Colombia, 15-5, 15-1
B16S, Timmy Hansen def. Guatemala, 15-4, 15-8
G18S, Graci Wargo def. Chile, 11-15, 15-8, 11-8
B18S, Ben Baron lost to Chile, 5-15, 10-15
B18S, Micah Farmer def. Chile, 15-10, 15-5
G16D, Alondra Canchola/Annie Roberts lost to Costa Rica, 4-15, 7-15   
B16D, Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen lost to Mexico, 11-15, 12-15
B18D, Dylan Pruitt/Josh Shea lost to Argentina, 6-15, 6-15
G18D, Erin Slutzky/Nikita Chauhan def. Costa Rica, 15-5, 15-6
G12S, Ava Naworski def. Costa Rica, 15-10, 15-11
G12S, Adriana Perez lost to Bolivia, 1-15, 2-15
B10D, Ashton Guiraud/Caleb Marshall def. Costa Rica, 15-12, 12-15, 11-5
G10D, Alea Guiraud/Aarya Shetty lost to Bolivia, 3-15, 12-15
G12D, Sonya Shetty/Ava Naworski lost to Bolivia, 13-15, 15-7, 6-11
Questions of the Day
If you could have a conversation with someone from history, who would it be?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Muhammad Ali
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Vincent Van Gogh
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Babe Zaharias
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Ralph Ellison
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Maria Argentina Minerva Mirabal Reyes 
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- The entire Beatles band #fabfour
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- George Washington
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Amelia Earhart
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- John F. Kennedy 
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Rosa Parks
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Christopher Columbus
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- Abraham Lincoln
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Bob Ross
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Thomas Jefferson
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Michael Jackson
Micah Farmer, 19 -- Hugh Glass
Ben Baron, 19 -- Muhammad Ali
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Abraham Lincoln
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Hugh Hefner
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Thomas Edison
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- Jonas Salk
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- Abraham Lincoln
Josh Shea, 15 -- Leif Erikson
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- George Washington
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- Nikola Tesla
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Stephen Hawking
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Albert Einstein
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Martin Luther King, Jr. 
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Jesus Christ
...and now, continuing with the food theme from yesterday...
If you could ban one vegetable forever, what would it be?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Brussels sprouts
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Brusselssprouts
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Avocado (specifically the ones that grow in California)
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- A carrot
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Tomatoes or onions, either one
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Tomato, even though it is technically a fruit
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- I love veggies, but I would say radishes
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Brussels sprouts
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Carrots because they taste really bad
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Cucumbers
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Arugula
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- Okra
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- I like them all
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Asparagus
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Carrots, ban carrots
Micah Farmer, 19 -- Celery
Ben Baron, 19 -- Asparagus. I do not like the way it looks, feels, or tastes. 
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Broccoli
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Squash
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- I wouldn’t ban any of them.  I like them all.
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- Brussels sprouts. I do not enjoy eating them.
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- Eggplant
Josh Shea, 15 -- Red peppers
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Broccoli
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Pickles
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- Bok choy
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Bok choy
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Carrot
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Greens
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Spinach
Veggie analysis: Brussels sprouts and carrots garnered an equal amount of loathing in the #1 position. Broccoli and tomatoes didn't fare well, but as Heather pointed out, tomatoes are not really a vegetable. Bok choy looks to be on the endangered list as well. Personally, I agree with Vedant -- eggplant is icky, even when there is Parmesan involved. 

Parent/Private Coaches in the House
As I mentioned in the last two blogs, besides the considerable talent contained within our US Junior Coaching Team (Charlie, Jen, Jody, Robbie, and Tony), we have the great advantage of having a number of parents involved with coaching their kids here as well as two private coaches who work extensively with some of our players throughout the year. 
There are numerous advantages to having these additional coaches here with us, for example, they are extremely familiar with their players' games, and they often provide coverage when there are too many matches going on at once or when a match might go to tiebreaker and the coach can't get to the next one for a few minutes. 
These valuable coaches are required to be USAR-IP certified as well as to complete background checks, SafeSport training, and CPR training. They sit side-by-side with the US Team coaches at the matches with their players. This combination provides what we believe is the ultimate support that can be given to our young athletes as they go for the Gold!
Anwar Ali, Brian Ancheta, Dave Ellis, Tim Hansen, Rick Kaiser, Hardy Marshall, Pendem Prasad, and Gary Wargo  -- we are so pleased to have you here in support of Team USA!
More Letters (aka email) from Home, Part 2
Scott and Gatlin Sutherland (Montana):Hello to everyone, and good luck! We will be watching and cheering. USA!! USA!!
Mary Gonzalez (Illinois): I am enjoying the blogs. The kids' opinions are especially interesting. How wonderful the opportunities are these kids have had traveling the world, and how thankful the people are about being in racquetball. 
Patrick Buckley (Indiana State Association):Let's Go USA!!!!
Joanna Pomodoro (USA Racquetball Board of Directors/Boston):Nerves, talent, and expectations go together. Take care, good luck, Team!
Cindy Rykhus-Fagan:In response to Micah Farmer on being a real cowboy, let him know that he doesn't have to go back in time, just travel to a small town on the high-line of Montana and he can see what real cowboys are all about!
Lisa Bachar (Illinois racquetball spouse):I’m amazed at the answers the young men and women come up with, and I look forward to the questions...very entertaining and insightful.
While I may not know the ins and outs of racquetball, I certainly recall my jaw dropping as I watched my husband Dave play for the first time. To imagine playing at 13, 14, 15 years old.... how incredible!! 
Tuesday's Schedule (Horario martes)
9:45 am, B14S, Nikhil Prasad vs. Guatemala
9:45 am, B14S, Vedant Chauahan vs. Canada
10:30 am, G14S, Ava Kaiser vs. Guatemala
11:30 am, G14S, Heather Mahoney vs. Guatemala
12:15 pm, G16S, Erin Slutzky vs. Mexico
2:00 pm, B16S, Andrew Gleason vs. Korea
3:00 pm, B16S, Timmy Hansen vs. Canada
3:00 pm, G18S, Nikita Chauhan vs. Costa Rica
3:00 pm, G18S, Graci Wargo vs. Costa Rica
4:00 pm, B18S, Ben Baron vs. Ecuador
5:00 pm, B18S, Micah Farmer vs. Ecuador
7:00 pm, G16D, Alondra Canchola/Annie Roberts vs. Bolivia
7:00 pm, G14D, Ava Kaiser/Kareena Mathew vs. Bolivia
8:00 pm, B16D, Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen vs. Ecuador
8:00 pm, B14D, Josh Shea/Vedant Chauhan vs. Ireland
9:00 pm, G18D, Erin Slutzky/Nikita Chauhan vs. Chile
9:00 am, G12S, Sonya Shetty vs. Bolivia
9:00 am, G12 S, Adriana Perez vs. Mexico
9:00 am, G12S, Ava Naworski vs. Chile
1:00 pm, B10D, Caleb Marshall/Ashton Guiraud vs. Guatemala
5:00 pm, G12D, Ava Naworski/Sonya Shetty vs. Mexico
5:00 pm, G10D, Elizabeth Denler/Aanshi Thakur vs. Guatemala
6:00 pm, B12D, Eshan Ali/Angel Galvan vs. Chile
6:00 pm, B12D, Advait Kartik/Joseph Marshall vs. Chile
Regarding streaming today, there was some difficulty in set-up, so unfortunately Graci and Ben didn't get their 15+ minutes of fame this afternoon. Fingers crossed that Erin will be up on Court #1 tomorrow at 12:15 pm. 
There is a rumor that some of the Esprit Girls are going to be contributing to the blogs by interviewing the U.S. Team Coaches this week. I'm on the edge of my seat wondering what questions they will ask (bet the coaches are, too). Stay tuned!

Blog #4
Sunday, November 10, 2019

The second day is under our belts in the preliminary rounds of the various age divisions. Once Monday and Tuesday matches are competed, the results will determine the seeding going into the main rounds of competition, Wednesday through Saturday. In the 20 matches competed today, 14 were victories. Let's have a look at Team USA's day on the courts...
Sunday's Results
G14S, Heather Mahoney def. Canada, 15-3, 15-2
G14S, Ava Kaiser def. Canada, 15-6, 15-4
G16S, Annie Roberts lost to Bolivia, 4-15, 13-15
G18S, Nikita Chauhan lost to Bolivia, 5-15, 4-15
B14D, Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea def. Costa Rica, 15-8, 15-12
G18S, Graci Wargo lost to Bolivia, 0-15, 1-15
B18D, Josh Shea/Dylan Pruitt def. Costa Rica, 15-11, 12-15, 11-8
B16D, Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen def. Chile, 15-10, 15-6
G14D, Ava Kaiser/Kareena Mathew def. Costa Rica, 9-15, 15-8, 11-2
G18D, Nikita Chauhan/Erin Slutzky def. Ecuador, 8-15, 15-8, 11-5
G12D, Sonya Shetty/Ava Naworski def. Costa Rica, 15-11, 15-5
G10D, Aanshi Thakur/Elizabeth Denler def. Costa RIca, 15-3, 15-13
G10D, Aarya Shetty/Alea Guiraud lost to Costa Rica, 10-15, 12-15
B12S, Eshan Ali (USA) def. Joseph Marshall (USA), 15-4, 15-10
G10S, Red, Alea Guiraud def. Costa Rica, 15-14, 15-6
G10S, Red, Aarya Shetty def. Costa Rica, 15-1, 15-8
B12S, Angel Galvan def. Chile, 15-5, 15-4
B10S, Ashton Guiraud lost to Korea, 11-15, 5-15
B10S, Caleb Marshall lost to Colombia, 4-15, 5-15
B12D, Joseph Marshall/Advait Kartik def. Korea, 15-6, 15-5

Now let's dive right into...
Questions of the Day!
What's the one food you could never bring yourself to eat?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Crab
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Brusselssprouts
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Calamari
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Mustard
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Chapulines (grasshoppers)
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Oranges and tomatoes
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Sushi-I prefer my fish cooked thank you.
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Escargot
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Snails...never eating those. 
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Cooked carrots
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Cod! Or anything marked "Manager's special"
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- Caviar
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Balut (half formed duck egg – boiled)
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Asparagus
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Vegetables (raw)
Micah Farmer, 19 -- Almonds...I'm allergic
Ben Baron, 19 -- I can never bring myself to eat carrot; raw or cooked. They have never tasted good and I still do not eat them to this day.
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Olives
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Scorpion on a stick!
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- Any form of bugs.
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I could never bring myself to eat beef.
Josh Shea, 15 -- Snail
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Chitterlings
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Seaweed
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- My mom's homemade orange juice
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Boba: That stuff is nasty
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Squid
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Oysters
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Bitter fruit

Would you rather go back in time or into the future? Where would you go?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Back in time when apple and blackberry were just fruits.
Graci Wargo, 18 -- I would go back in time to the 50s.
Annie Roberts, 17 -- I would want to go far enough into the future to when we don't use gas anymore so I don't have to pay for it. 
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- I would want to go back in time and go to the 1920s.
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- I want to go into the future, I want to see what happens and I'm also wondering when we will invent flying cars, or really fast spaceships...maybe we all move to Mars. 
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Back to the 60’s and 70’s to enjoy the music and fashion
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Back in time to someplace that I am not able to travel to today.
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- I would go to the future to see how my life turns out when I'm older. 
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- I would go back in time so I can fix my mistakes.
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Back in Time -- Berkeley California in the 60s
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Back in time. Jerusalem. 
Aanshi Thakur, 11 -- Back in time to the 80's in California
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Back in time to see my grandpa
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Into the future
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- I would go to the future and see the future.
Micah Farmer, 19 -- I'd go back in time to the days of the Wild West. I wanna be a real cowboy. 
Ben Baron, 19 -- I would like to go back in time to New York. I have heard it was a lot more fun, and I would like to see how much different it is than it is now. 
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Future, I would go to Hawaii
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Back, with my current knowledge
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- I would go back in time. Roman Coliseum
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- I would go to the future and travel the world.
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I would travel to the future to India.
Josh Shea, 15 -- Future, Mars on a rocket
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Into the future
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Back in time, to fix my mistakes
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- Back in time to see scientists
Advait Kartik, 13 -- I would go back in time
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Into the future
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Go back to Jesus' time, where He lived
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- I would go back in time to the time I broke my ankle before Worlds so I could fix it.

Officials (aka Referees) and IRF Staff -- Working Long Days!
Thanks so much to the officials and staff members who traveled from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela, and the USA to provide a professional experience for the 13 countries that are competing here in Costa Rica
IRF President Osvaldo Maggi (Argentina) and PARC President Marcelo Gómez (Costa Rica) 
Argentina: German Coppolecchia, Franco Capandequi, Sebastian Digon
Chile: Alvaro Yañez
Ecuador: Maria Paz Muñoz 
Colombia: Francisco Gomez, Felipe Arenas, Maria Paz Riquelme, Cristina Amaya
Venezuela: Carlos Bermudez
Dominican Republic: Ramon de Leon
Costa Rica: Gabriel Garcia, Jose Ubilla, Allan Chaco
Mexico: Ricardo Gonzalez, Ivan Valdez, Alejandro Morales, Jaime Martell
Operations Staff
Gary Mazaroff (USA), Gustavo Farell (USA), Adrian Macrino (Argentina), Maria De Los Angeles Sarria (Colombia), Daniel Maggi (Argentina)

A-Team Within Team USA
You've heard of The Team Behind the Team? (That's all of us...)  Well, we have a variation on that theme -- The Team Within the Team, aka the A-Team (remember the mid-80's TV show?). Jen, Jody, and I were chatting the other day, and it occurred to us we have A LOT of team members whose names begin with the letter "A".  So of course we counted them up -- it's 12 of 29 (to spare you the calculation, that's 41.37%). 
We have Aanshi, Aarya, Adriana, Advait, Alea, Alondra, Andrew, Angel, Annie, Ashton, Ava, and Ava.Note:In the military, the nickname A-Team has been used for Special Forces Operational Detachments Alpha. Interestingly, "these detachments usually consisted of twelve members." Source: Wikipedia; The A-Team.
I have no idea where this goes from here, but it's kind of fun and cool. Go A-Team, Go Team USA!
Monday's Schedule
Coming up tomorrow is another day of exciting competition. Although Team USA matches don’t begin until 11:00 am CT, the 18 matches go all day and well into the evening. 
11:00 am, G14S, Heather Mahoney vs. Ecuador
12:00 pm, G16S, Erin Slutzky vs. Ecuador
12:00 pm, G14S, Ava Kaiser vs. Costa Rica
1:00 pm, G16S, Annie Roberts vs. Ecuador
3:00 pm, B16S, Andrew Gleason vs. Colombia
4:00 pm, B16S, Timmy Hansen vs. Guatemala
4:00 pm, G18S, Graci Wargo vs. Chile 
5:00 pm, B18S, Ben Baron vs. Chile
6:00 pm, B18S, Micah Farmer vs. Chile
7:00 pm, G16D, Alondra Canchola/Annie Roberts vs. Costa Rica
8:00 pm, B16D, Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen vs. Mexico
9:00 pm, B18D, Dylan Pruitt/Josh Shea vs. Argentina
9:00 pm, G18D, Erin Slutzky/Nikita Chauhan vs. Costa Rica
11:00 am, G12S, Ava Naworski vs. Costa Rica
11:00 am, G12S, Adriana Perez vs. Bolivia
2:00 pm, B10D, Ashton Guiraud/Caleb Marshall vs. Costa Rica
6:00 pm, G10D, Alea Guiraud/Aarya Shetty vs. Bolivia
6:00 pm, G12D, Sonya Shetty/Ava Naworski vs. Bolivia
Great news!!Formal live streaming begins tomorrow at 6:00 pm CT. Go to internationalracquetball.com and click on the link!
Disclaimer: The IRF reserves the right to change the streaming schedule for various logistical reasons, but here's how it looks for U.S. matches being streamed from here at World Juniors on Monday and Tuesday: 
Graci Wargo, 4:00 pm Monday vs. Chile
Ben Baron, 5:00 pm Monday vs. Chile
Erin Slutzky, 12:15 pm Tuesday vs. Mexico
Go to www.internationalracquetball.com and click on the link. There is no charge to view the matches. 
Things are heating up...

Blog #3
Saturday, November 9, 2019
Coach Charlie Pratt's Day One Comments
It was exciting seeing a few Esprit players making their World Championship debut in what we hope is the first of many in a long prosperous junior career.  What stands out is how much these kids have grown in just a year. That goes as well for some of the kids from other countries I haven't seen since last year. They've grown so much and their games have changed so much, too; they're not the same players they were a year ago. It has become more and more apparent that the talent in junior racquetball has spread to an even level throughout most countries. The competition is much deeper. It's becoming harder and harder to predict who's going to win any given division, and this bodes well for the future of our sport.
Speaking of today, our first day of competition, matches began at 9:00 am and went solid all the way until 9:00 pm. The Esprit team had 14 matches and World Cup had six. Of the 20 matches played today, we had 11 wins and 9 losses. The US Team Delegation is showing massive amounts of enthusiasm and encouragement for our players, and we look forward to a successful day tomorrow!

B14S, Nikhil Prasad def. Costa Rica, 15-3, 15-1
B14S, Vedant Chauhan lost to Costa Rica, 14-15, 10-15
B16S, Andrew Gleason lost to Mexico, 4-15, 15-5, 9-11
B16S, Timmy Hansen def. Ecuador, 15-7, 15-7
B18S, Ben Baron def. Bolivia, 15-6, 15-8
B18S, Micah Farmer lost to Costa Rica, 7-15, 15-7, 2-11
B12S, Eshan Ali def. Chile, 15-8, 15-5    
B12S, Advait Kartik lost to Chile, 10-15, 10-15
B10S, Ashton Guiraud def. Costa Rica, 15-0, 15-0
B10S, Caleb Marshall def. Guatemala, 15-0, 15-0
G10S, Aarya Shetty lost to Bolivia, 5-15, 4-15
G10S, Elizabeth Denler def. Costa Rica, 15-9, 15-1
G12S, Sonya Shetty def. Costa Rica, 15-10, 6-15, 11-4
G10S, Alea Guiraud lost to Guatemala, 2-15, 7-15
G10S, Aanshi Thakur def. Costa Rica, 15-0, 15-0
G12S, Adriana Perez def. Costa Rica, 15-2, 15-1
G12S, Ava Naworski lost to Bolivia, 14-15, 6-15
B12D, Advait Kartik/Joseph Marshall lost to Costa Rica, 11-15, 6-15
B12D, Angel Galvan/Eshan Ali def. Costa Rica, 15-8, 15-12
B10D, Ashton Guiraud/Caleb Marshall lost to Bolivia, 7-15, 7-15

Questions of the Day
Which of the Seven Dwarfs is like you?
(As a reminder: Grumpy, Dopey, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy, Bashful, Doc)
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Happy
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Dopey, since Dopey is kind of Goofy. 
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Sneezy
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Grumpy
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Bashful
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Sleepy
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Happy
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Dopey
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Sleepy, because his name is my favorite activity.
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Happy
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Sleepy
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Happy
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Happy
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Sleepy, I feel like him
Micah Farmer, 19 -- What...?
Ben Baron, 19 -- Sleepy; I am always tired and look like I need a nap.
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Bashful
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- All except Sneezy
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Sleepy, I am always tired.
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- Bashful (really, Nikhil???)
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- Happy
Josh Shea, 15 -- Sleepy
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Happy
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Happy
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- Happy
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Dopey, because he is silly
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Happy
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Doc
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Happy
You might wonder, how does this come out statistically? Well, Timmy Hansen interrupted the purity of this critical analysis by not naming just one, but I think we can still make a clear declaration that just about half of this team is Happy, with a goodly number of Sleepys needing a nap. Dopey and Bashful trailed significantly at four apiece (just as well), followed by just two Docs, and one each Sneezy and Grumpy (a blessing, really).  Here's the breakdown...
Happy 13
Sleepy  8
Bashful  4
Dopey  4
Doc  2
Grumpy 1
Sneezy 1
Unclear on the question 1
Name a product or service you love so much that you'd happily be that company's spokesperson.
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Amazon
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Lululemon, love their leggings, shirts, jackets, shorts, everything. <3
Annie Roberts, 17 --  Jamba Juice
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Nike
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Nike
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Amy’s Kitchen because they have delicious vegetarian foods with a reduced environmental impact
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- My sponsor HEAD. Ty Beanie Boos.
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Nike or lululemon
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- USA Racquetball
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Netflix
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Benten Ramen
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Dim sum Pineapple Buns
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Gearbox
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Taco Bell
Micah Farmer, 19 -- Chick-fil-A
Ben Baron, 19 -- Nike. It is my favorite brand for almost anything. Most, if not all, of my athlete clothing is Nike. The same goes with my shoes. I would definitely be a spokesperson for Nike. I hope they see this. 
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Gearbox Racquetball
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Nike, Chick-fil-A
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Prokennex
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- I would enjoy being Apple's spokesperson.
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I really like Apple's AirPods because of their simplicity and I would be the spokesperson. 
Josh Shea, 15 -- HEAD
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Spyder clothing
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Arizona Tea
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- Apple
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Sambazon
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Head
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- USA Racquetball
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- Head

Gratitude and Remembrance
The US Junior Team thanks Wendall Pelham of Oregon for the generous support from his organization, Live Like John. This charitable organization honors the memory of Wendall's son, Spc. John A. Pelham, who passed away at age 22 in Afghanistan. Today, November 9th, would have been John's 28th birthday, and we remember him as a dedicated member of the racquetball family who posted five days before he passed, "I can't wait to play racquetball again." 
I firmly believe we have John's spirit and energy behind our 29 US Junior Team players who are competing for their country here in Costa Rica. Wendall agrees: "For those of us that got to play with John, this statement is so true. Occasionally I will hit a shot and the other players on the court will accuse of me having John with me. The answer is, 'Yes, he is.' I am looking forward to seeing how our kids do this next week. Good luck to all."
More Letters (aka emails) From Home
As racquetball family members are reading about the US Junior Team's adventure unfolding in Costa Rica, we are hearing from folks back home: 
Joanne Pomodoro(USA Racquetball Board Member/Massachusetts): Good luck, Team! Focus on task at hand. "The powers within, use it to win." -- one of my mantras. 
Laura Pesek (Indiana State Racquetball Association President): Go Team USA! Indiana is rooting for all of you!
Mike Mahon (Illinois racquetball player): Thanks for the blog, love the kids' answers. Hope they do well and have fun!"
Keith Calkins (Past President of USA Racquetball and the International Racquetball Federation): Hope everyone has a solid tournament with lots of success. These are such wonderful moments in the lives of everyone in attendance. Go USA!
Mike Lippitt (Founder, Reaching Your Dream Foundation: Keep rolling them out!
Similar to Saturday, Team USA hits the courts at 9:00 am and the last match is schedule for 9:00 pm.  A frequently asked question is, "What about live streaming?" Select matches will be streamed beginning with the quarterfinals mid-week. More info coming soon... In the meantime, draws and results can be found at www.internationalracquetball.com. Here is Team USA's Sunday match lineup.
 9:00 am, G14S, Heather Mahoney vs. Canada
 9:00 am, G14S, Ava Kaiser vs. Canada
10:00 am, G16S, Annie Roberts vs. Bolivia
11:00 am, G18S, Nikita Chauhan vs. Bolivia
12:00 pm, B14D, Vedant Chauhan/Josh Shea vs. Costa Rica
12:00 pm, G18S, Graci Wargo vs. Bolivia
1:00 pm, B18D, Josh Shea/Dylan Pruitt vs. Costa Rica
1:00 pm, B16D, Andrew Gleason/Timmy Hansen vs. Chile
7:00 pm, G14D, Ava Kaiser/Kareena Mathew vs. Costa Rica
8:00 pm, G18D, Nikita Chauhan/Erin Slutzky vs. Ecuador
2:00 pm, G12D, Sonya Shetty/Ava Naworski vs. Costa Rica
2:00 pm, G10D, Aanshi Thakur/Elizabeth Denler vs. Costa RIca
2:00 pm, G10D, Aarya Shetty/Alea Guiraud vs. Costa Rica
4:00 pm, B12S, Joseph Marshall (USA) vs. Eshan Ali (USA) 
4:00 pm, G10S Red, Alea Guiraud vs. Costa Rica
4:00 pm, G10S Red, Aarya Shetty vs. Costa Rica
5:00 pm, B12S, Angel Galvan vs. Chile
6:00 pm, B10S, Ashton Guiraud vs. Korea
7:00 pm, B10S, Caleb Marshall vs. Colombia
9:00 pm, B12D, Joseph Marshall/Advait Kartik vs. Korea

Blog #2
Friday, November 8, 2019
A Whirlwind of a Day
Quite a few players had the chance to practice on the courts this morning. Coaches Charlie, Robbie, and Tony as well as Team Leader Cheryl attended the Coaches' meeting where the rules of the event were communicated and the draws were distributed. Now we have the lay of the land!
After a parents' meeting at 3:00 at the hotel, the 90-person US Junior Team Delegation congregated at Court 5 (one of the "white courts") at 4:45 pm for team photos before Opening Ceremonies. The team looks fantastic in their uniforms supplied by Rollout Racquetball (USA Racquetball’s Official Apparel Sponsor). We were able to capture the team as a whole; the World Cup Team; the Esprit Team; the US Team coaches; the US Team coaches with parent/private coaches; and last but not least, the cheerleaders (parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and private coaches) all in the space of about 40 minutes. Whew! Junior Team USA is a well-oiled machine.

Speaking of cheerleaders...
The 29 U.S. Junior Team players brought along plenty of support! Besides the staff of six, 55 family members and private coaches (bringing the delegation number to 90) will be right there in the stands tomorrow cheering enthusiastically for our young competitors. Joining us here in San José are Anwar Ali, Brian Ancheta, Gary Ball, Sue Ball, Alan Baron, Mark Baron, Mary Beth Baron, Sandra Baron, Kadambari Beelwar, Maria Canchola, Ron Denler, Dave Ellis, Pat Ellis, Debbie Farmer, Hudson Farmer, Mia Farmer, Shellie Farmer, Stephen Farmer, Walt Farmer, Angel Galvan, Michael Gleason, Alexis Guiraud, Clayton Guiraud, Julie Guiraud, Katie Hansen, Kellie Hansen, Sarah Hansen, Tim Hansen, Rick Kaiser, Sundram Kartik, Rhonda Kimler, Hadley Mahoney, John Mahoney, Melodese Mahoney, Hardy Marshall, Kristy Marshall, Prem Mathew, Matt Naworski, Armando Perez, Armando Perez, Sr., Regina Perez, Pendem Prasad, Lee Pruitt, Benjamin Roberts, Bryan Roberts, Danielle Roberts, Dave Shea, Beth Shea, Naina Shetty, Shrinivas Shetty, Steve Slutzky, Arun Kumar Sudamalla, Rakesh Thakur, Gary Wargo, and Kathleen Wargo. 
Warm thankto each of you for your enthusiastic presence for Junior Team USA!

Opening Ceremonies
The basketball gym at the Indoor Club became the location for Opening Ceremonies. Players from the 13 countries began lining up at 5:45 pm for their entrance into the Opening Ceremonies. There are 13 countries participating in total: Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Korea, Mexico, and the USA.
After the Parade of Nations, the emcee introduced the VIPs at the head table -- IRF President Osvaldo Maggi; Costa Rica Federation President and Tournament Host Marcelo Gómez, Indoor Club Board President Jorge Porras, and Costa Rica Sport Minister Hernan Solano. Each delivered a few comments to the audience of 400+ in attendance. Athlete and Referee Oaths were taken, and then an impressive entertainment program was presented with dancers depicting naturally occurring animals in Costa Rica. There were also several exotic performers on stilts. But the most jaw-dropping part of the show is hard to explain. Two women performers performed graceful and athletic movements using white strips of stretchy cloth suspended from the ceiling. I'm at a loss to perfectly explain this, but I'm telling you, they would do well on a show like ____'s Got Talent. Choose a country. 
Something extremely special today happened for the US Junior Team Delegation. Ambassador Sharon Day, United States Ambassador to Costa Rica, attended Opening Ceremonies. Along with her very pleasant assistant Lauren Garza, Ambassador Day stayed for the entire ceremonies and afterward posed for photos with the U.S. players and coaches. She brought a pin for each player: Costa Rican and American flags with staffs crossed in friendship. Ambassador Day was warm and engaging. This was a proud moment for the delegation and for our sport. 

Questions of the Day
Three words to describe you would be _________, _________, and ________.
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- compassionate, warm-hearted, ambitious
Graci Wargo, 18 -- determined, energetic, stubborn
Annie Roberts, 17 -- kind, determined, fun
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- motivated, athletic, chill
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- clumsy, friendly, kind
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- athletic, caring, hungry
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- competitive, fun, smart
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- realistic, athletic, committed
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- outgoing, loyal, and funny
Ava Naworski, 13 -- crazy, goofy, happy
Adriana Perez, 13 -- funny, chill, introvert
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- happy, playful and creative
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- supportive, caring, grateful
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- neutral, sleepy, happy
Micah Farmer, 19 -- determined, creative, active
Ben Baron, 19 -- athletic, smart, sarcastic
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- funny, considerate, and helpful
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- gentle, friendly, outgoing
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- determined, reflective, organized
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- energetic, happy, talkative
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- determined, curious, and optimistic
Josh Shea, 15 -- funny, honest, nice
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- imaginative, animal lover, reader
Angel Galvan, 12 -- active, funny, and spontaneous
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- funny, weird, and happy
Advait Kartik, 13 -- loyal, daring, and sincere
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- awesome, cool, caring
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- smart, athletic, Christian
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- honest, polite, spiritual

What is the most rewarding or fulfilling thing you have ever done?  
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- Winning my school spelling bee
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Being on Team USA and competing at Junior Worlds for the 10th time!
Annie Roberts, 17 -- The decision to pursue my goals in racquetball has led to the most fulfilling moments in life. I don't think I could choose one because I learn something new at each competition. 
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- I volunteered at my old elementary school to help certain students who struggled with reading.
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- Getting high academics while having the opportunity to come and compete for USA
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Volunteering and helping people during the Sonoma County fires
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Volunteering teaching swimming; also spending hours at the animal hospital job shadowing and working at a petting zoo.
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Raising and donating about $400 to a refugee camp.
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Win the Worlds because it taught me that I am sorta good at some things in life.
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Academic Award last year (7thgrade)
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Winning my first Jiu Jitsu competition against higher belts! 
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Eating a cherry once I figured out to not eat it like corn on the cob
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Helping my siblings
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Adopted a dog
Micah Farmer, 19 -- I got an A+ on my spelling test in the second grade.
Ben Baron, 19 -- Being a math tutor. It was fun to see kids that were struggling with math finally understand what was happening and watching how happy they would get. 
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Winning Junior National doubles in Oregon
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Being kind to other people. A few years ago I gave a younger junior player a racquet. He was so happy and it has been a tradition now at Junior Nationals: I try to give him a new racquet, makes him so happy and me feel good. 
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Reading books to kids!
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- Winning worlds last year after all the hard work I put in leading into the tournament. 
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- One of the most rewarding things I have done is reaching out to underprivileged schools and introducing them to robotics and STEM.
Josh Shea, 15 -- Volunteer cleaning hiking trails
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Going fishing
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Donated clothes, money, and food to a homeless shelter
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- Finish the Holy Quran 
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Written the ISEE
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Playing nationals
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Winning two baseball championship rings
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- It's between making it to Worlds, winning Math Olympiad in my school, or getting baptized.

Saturday #1 -- Competition Begins!
The 20 matches scheduled for Saturday will have the coaches sprinting from court to court. For those reading this blog who are not die-hard racquetball enthusiasts, here’s a key to some of the abbreviations you’ll be seeing here throughout the week:
G = Girls
B = Boys
Number = age division
S = Singles
D = Doubles
Here's the lineup for first-round matches. If you're looking for a certain player and don't see him/her, that means that they are not scheduled for Saturday. 
Saturday, 5:00 pm, B14S, Nikhil Prasad vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, 6:00 pm, B14S, Vedant Chauhan vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, 7:00 pm, B16S, Andrew Gleason vs. Mexico
Saturday, 7:00 pm, B16S, Timmy Hansen vs. Ecuador
Saturday, 8:00 pm, B18S, Ben Baron vs. Bolivia
Saturday, 9:00 pm, B18S, Micah Farmer vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, 9:00 am, B12S, Eshan Ali vs. Chile
Saturday, 10:00 am, B12S, Advait Kartik vs. Chile
Saturday, 11:00 am, B10S, Ashton Guiraud vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, 12:00 pm, B10S, Caleb Marshall vs. Guatemala
Saturday, 1:00 pm, G10S, Aarya Shetty vs. Bolivia
Saturday, 1:00 pm, G10S, Elizabeth Denler vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, 2:00 pm, G12S, Sonya Shetty vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, 2:00 pm, G10S, Alea Guiraud vs. Guatemala
Saturday, 2:00 pm, G10S, Aanshi Thakur vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, 3:00 pm, G12S, Adriana Perez vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, 3:00 pm, G12S, Ava Naworski vs. Bolivia
Saturday, 3:00 pm, B12D, Advait Kartik/Joseph Marshall vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, 4:00 pm, B12D, Angel Galvan/Eshan Ali vs. Costa Rica
Saturday, 7:00 pm, B10D, Ashton Guiraud/Caleb Marshall vs. Bolivia
Note that the time here is the same as Central Standard time. This is important, because we need everyone's best wishes at match times to support Team USA! Tomorrow's blog will report results, Sunday's schedule, and, yes, more “Questions of the Day."  Back in 24...
P.S. A personal shout out to Illinois racquetball player Eric Mathews and his fiancée Brittany Reuber who will be spouses by this time tomorrow evening (Saturday). Congratulations and best wishes to my friends Eric and Brittany!

Blog #1
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Greetings from San José, Costa Rica, where the temperature is very consistently in the mid-70s during the day and 60 degrees at night. It's cloudy today and rain is predicted in the afternoon (actually every afternoon), but if you're from Chicago and Minneapolis and Iowa (as some of us are), who's complaining? 
Many of the US Junior Team Delegation members (numbering 90 total for this trip, yep, you read that right) had arrived by Thursday evening with a few more coming in tomorrow. There have been no issues in immigration and customs, no lost luggage (knock on wood), and ground transportation has been efficient and timely. 
The U.S. Junior Team Delegation here in San José is comprised of 29 players (14 boys and 15 girls, ages 9-19), 6 staff members, and 55 parents/grandparents/siblings/private coaches plus a few uncles and aunts! I’ll be recognizing our "cheerleaders" in a coming blog.   
Before reading on, join us in sending our affection and respect to U.S. Junior Team member Nathan Rykhus of California who was coming to Worlds with his mom Sarah and dad Steve to compete in the Boys 10 Singles and Doubles divisions. Unfortunately, Nathan recently sustained a foot injury. While it's such a disappointment for Nathan (and all of us) not to have him here, we know it's best to listen to the doctor to ensure he's going to be fine and playing racquetball for many years to come! Nathan sent great responses for the Question of the Day blog feature, so watch for his answers each day along with those of his 29 teammates.
Introducing the US Junior Team players and staff! (Names in parentheses are doubles partners.)
Nikita Chauhan, 18, California, Girls 18 Singles, Girls 18 Doubles (Erin Slutzky)
Graci Wargo, 18, Florida, Girls 18 Singles
Annie Roberts, 17, Oregon, Girls 16 Singles, Girls 16 Doubles (Alondra Canchola)
Erin Slutzky, 17, Missouri, Girls 16 Singles, Girls 18 Doubles (Nikita Chauhan)
Alondra Canchola, 16, California, Girls 16 Doubles (Annie Roberts)
Heather Mahoney, 15, California, Girls 14 Singles
Ava Kaiser, 14, Minnesota, Girls 14 Singles, Girls 14 Doubles (Kareena Mathew)
Kareena Mathew, 14, Oregon, Girls 14 Doubles (Ava Kaiser)
Micah Farmer, 19, Texas, Boys 18 Singles
Ben Baron, 19, Arizona, Boys 18 Singles
Dylan Pruitt, 18, Maryland, Boys 18 Doubles (Josh Shea)
Timmy Hansen, 16, Florida, Boys 16 Singles, Boys 16 Doubles (Andrew Gleason)
Andrew Gleason, 16, Iowa, Boys 16 Singles, Boys 16 Doubles (Timmy Hansen)
Nikhil Prasad, 14, California, Boys 14 Singles
Vedant Chauhan, 15, California, Boys 14 Singles, Boys 14 Doubles (Josh Shea)
Josh Shea, 15, New York, Boys 18 Doubles (Dylan Pruitt), Boys 14 Doubles (Vedant Chauhan)
*Sonya Shetty, 13, California, Girls 12 Singles, Girls 12 Doubles (Ava Naworski)
*Ava Naworski, 13, California, Girls 12 Singles, Girls 12 Doubles (Sonya Shetty)
Adriana Perez, 13, California, Girls 12 Singles
* Aanshi Thakur, 11, California, Girls 10 Singles, Girls 10 Doubles (Elizabeth Denler)
* Elizabeth Denler, 11, Minnesota, Girls 10 Singles, Girls 10 Doubles (Aanshi Thakur)
Alea Guiraud, 10, California, Girls 10 Singles, Girls 10 Doubles (Aarya Shetty)
Aarya Shetty, 10, California, Girls 10 Singles, Girls 10 Doubles (Alea Giraud)
Joseph Marshall, 13, Tennessee, * Boys 12 Singles, Boys 12 Doubles (Advait Kartik)
Angel Galvan, 12, California, * Boys 12 Singles, * Boys 12 Doubles (Eshan Ali)
Eshan Ali, 12, California, Boys 12 Singles,  * Boys 12 Doubles (Angel Galvan)
Advait Kartik, 13, California, Boys 12 Singles, Boys 12 Doubles (Joseph Marshall)
* Ashton Guiraud, 10, California, Boys 10 Singles, Boys 10 Doubles (Caleb Marshall)
* Caleb Marshall, 9, Tennessee, Boys 10 Singles, Boys 12 Doubles (Ashton Guiraud)
* Denotes Point Earners -- For the Esprit Cup category (12's and 10's), each country is allowed to enter up to six players for singles and two doubles teams. However, two singles players and one doubles team in each age category must be designated as point earners toward the overall Esprit Cup championship.
Anticipating questions before they're asked, you might be wondering... How can some players be, for example, 19 years old in an 18 division? Or 13 years old in a 12 division? Ha, glad you (almost) inquired! Players can enter divisions based on how old they were on January 1st of the year the competition is held. 
Charlie Pratt (Oregon) – Head Coach
Jennifer Meyer (Colorado) – Esprit Coach 
Jody Nance (California) – Trainer/Assistant Coach
Robbie Collins (California) -- Assistant Coach
Tony Carson (Oregon) -- Assistant Coach
Cheryl Kirk (Illinois) – Team Leader & USAR Board of Directors
Thursday Highlights
The first two of three practice sessions before the main event begins on Saturday were scheduled for 10:00 am-12:00 pm and 6:00 pm-8:00 pm today. Players got a lot of time in today to get the feel of the courts, become acclimated to the club, and practice with their doubles partners (some of whom live pretty far apart and don't play together that often).
Afternoon trips to Wal-Mart by parents and grandparents (and Charlie) netted mucho aguaplus various snacks and supplies. On any international trip, obtaining bottled water is the first order of business; it's critically important for everyone to stay hydrated at all times and especially at approximately 3,800 feet above sea level. (And, it's not a good idea to drink water from the tap or unknown sources when outside the U.S. Some have cultivated the wise habit of spitting in the shower, but that's TMI.)
We’re loving this app – it’s so efficient and cost effective. I set up a group chat of 61 parents/adults in the delegation before we left, and from a team leader perspective, it's great for getting information across throughout the entire trip, starting with early details, to travel communication (keeping track of arrivals, etc.), to hotel check-in instructions, and on into the busy week ahead. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be on everyone (especially me) if we didn’t have this technology. It's all about me.
Another great thing about WhatsApp is that photos are shared amongst everyone in the delegation, like from the tours some families took yesterday and today. No doubt we'll have a lot of action shots and courtside photos when competition begins Saturday. We'll grab some group shots of the players, the coaches, and the family members (aka unsung heroes) before Opening Ceremonies tomorrow, and we'll make sure everyone back home gets to see those! 
Questions of the Day
I asked our US Junior Team members to answer 24 blog questions, and if I include two each day, there are still too many for 10 blogs over the course of the event! Best get started!
What's your Why? Why do you play racquetball?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- I love that rush of energy when you hit a kill shot. Also, because of the people and memories that I have made through the sport.
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Over the years it has become my getaway, my fun place.  A place I can go on stressful days of college classes and work. 
Annie Roberts, 17 -- I play racquetball because I love the competitive matches that really push you to be a better player. 
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- I play racquetball because of the people I meet and my love for the game. Through racquetball I’ve met people from all over the US and outside that I would have never gotten to know without the opportunities USA Racquetball has given me. And with all the sports that I’ve played, I’ve never encountered one with the same level of competitiveness, the same fast pace, and the same rewarding nature.
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- I play it because I love it, the adrenaline, the movement, the action, the anticipation! I can't get enough! The competition is awesome and a lot of bonds form over time. 
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- I play because I love the sport and the speed of the game. I like meeting people from all over the world, too.
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Because it is the greatest sport on the planet!
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Racquetball for me is something that I love to do. I always want to push myself to do better, it keeps me motivated, and I feel completely fulfilled when I am able to overcome or accomplish a goal.
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- I play racquetball because it is such a tight sport and I love the thrill you get when you are inside the court.
Ava Naworski, 13 -- I love working to improve.
Adriana Perez, 13 -- To hit the ball hard, to relieve stress, for fitness and well-being. 
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- To make friends from different states and countries.
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- I play racquetball because it is a fast sport and you can play your own game. 
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Because I want to stay healthy.
Micah Farmer, 19 -- Because it's fun.
Ben Baron, 19 -- I play racquetball because I am a very competitive person. My dad started teaching me to play when I was 12 and I have not stopped playing since. 
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- I play racquetball because I get to meet new people and it's fun.
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- I have fun playing, love all the friends and experiences it has given me and especially love the competition.
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Because I love the sport.  There is always something new I can learn on the court.
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- I enjoy the sport and the exercise I get from it.
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I play racquetball because it is fun being in a competitive environment and I like to travel to different places to play.
Josh Shea, 15 -- I love the quickness and excitement of the sport and always want to win.
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Because I like to.
Angel Galvan, 12 -- I play racquetball because the people are great and it is fun, and nice to know you have a second family.
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- It's fun and you get exercise.
Advait Kartik, 13 -- For University.
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Because it is a fast sport and good social sport. 
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Because I like to compete, and I want my name to be known for something good.
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- I play racquetball because it's fun and I love it.
If you had to eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be, and why?
Nikita Chauhan, 18 -- It would be the following meal: Bagel with eggs sunny side up, avocado, and a glass of fresh orange juice :)
Graci Wargo, 18 -- Chicken. I eat it all the time. 
Annie Roberts, 17 -- Carne asada street tacos, because they always taste good, they don't make you feel super full, and on Tuesdays, they're only a dollar. 
Erin Slutzky, 17 -- Raisin toast
Alondra Canchola, 16 -- I would probably choose a dessert like cheesecake because I have a sweet tooth, but for a meal, pasta.
Heather Mahoney, 15 -- Any kind of pasta
Ava Kaiser, 14 -- Salads, because there is such a variety of ingredients
Kareena Mathew, 14 -- Pizza, you can put whatever you want on it.
Sonya Shetty, 13 -- Taco Bell because it is amazing
Ava Naworski, 13 -- Mac - N - Cheese --- it's yummy
Adriana Perez, 13 -- Sandwiches, because you can put anything you want in them. 
Elizabeth Denler, 11 -- Watermelon because it is nutritious and has water in it.  Oh wait, cotton candy for the opposite reasons.
Alea Guiraud, 10 -- Broccoli
Aarya Shetty, 10 -- Tacos, I like tacos
Micah Farmer, 19 -- Bacon, the best thing on this God given Earth
Ben Baron, 19 -- I would eat burgers because I never get sick of eating them. It is always an option and there are some variations to making them. 
Dylan Pruitt, 18 -- Steak. Because it's juicy and tender.
Timmy Hansen, 16 -- Steak (sorry, Charlie)
Andrew Gleason, 16 -- Chicken…protein.  We need protein, they are the building blocks.
Nikhil Prasad, 14 -- Probably a bagel because it's simple and I could have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
Vedant Chauhan, 15 -- I would eat eggs because they have protein. 
Josh Shea, 15 -- Sushi, it is delicious and healthy.
Joseph Marshall, 13 -- Corn
Angel Galvan, 12 -- Pizza, because you can put anything you want on it, like healthy foods
Eshan Ali, 12, California -- Chili, because I like the taste of it.
Advait Kartik, 13 -- Biriyani
Ashton Guiraud, 10 -- Eggs Benedict, because it has eggs in it.
Caleb Marshall, 9 -- Tacos, because they have meat and vegetables all in one 
Nathan Rykhus, 11 -- My mom's homemade pizza because it tastes really good. It's almost like you can taste the love.
Mañana...Viernes (Friday)
Friday will be a super busy day with morning practice at the club, the Coaches’ meeting at 12:00 pm, a delegation meet-and-greet meeting at 3:00 pm, team photos at 4:15 pm, and Opening Ceremonies at 5:30 pm. 
Play commences on Saturday morning, and over the next week, these blogs will carry news on match schedules and results, streaming information, and fun question features to help you get to know our players OFF the courts. Stay tuned, and…